The Ethics of Intra-Generational Equity

One of the elite scientists who advises the Holy Father as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is Dr. Veerabhadran (Ram) Ramanathan. For several weeks we have offered excerpts from a paper by Dr. “Ram,” entitled “The Two Worlds Approach to Mitigating Climate Change: The Top One Billion and the Bottom Three Billion.” We continue in this week’s Update.

The disproportionate and unsustainable consumption by the top one billion in conjunction with the likely imminence of the warming raises major ethical issues since the Bottom Three Billion are least equipped to deal with climate change resulting from a 20C warming. To give but one example, most of them survive on subsistence farming with few acres of land. A mega-drought of the sort that is visiting California the last five years would destroy their only source of income. In spite of having a minimal role in causing the climate changes they will bear the brunt of the likely devastations of climate change.

*The thumbnail image shows the snowpack change in California from January 2013-January 2014. The decreased snowpack has been a contributing factor to the severe drought in the state.

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